Title: Dear Demora (and other Epitaphs from Enterprise)
Summary: How exactly do you stay grounded when even the gravity around you is artificial and you're light years away from home? By keeping connected to those you love by what ever written means necessary. A collection of letters, emails and other written correspondence from Enterprise's five-year mission.
This is the third story in the Dear Spock universe.
Continuity: This story follows Dear Spock and Dear James, which was a re-contextualizing of Star Trek Into Darkness. We are about 90% cannon compliant up to the end of Star Trek Into darkness. The biggest differences are that the Vengeance Incident occurred in June instead of February 2259, Jim and Spock are married, and Leonard and Nyota are raising his daughter together onboard Enterprise. She also legally changed her name to Josephine Jamie Uhura-McCoy. Finally, Spock is now captain of Enterprise, and Jim is his first officer/assistant Captain.
How canon compliant will we be for Star Trek Beyond, you're just going to have to read and see. Although Sulu's daughter is already here, along with his boyfriend's daughter from a previous relationship. See things are different already. Maybe enough things have changed so that some of the events of Star Trek Beyond will not happen or maybe some things are inevitable. I know the answer to that question, but I'm not ready to share yet.
Rating: T for grown-up situations and language.
Day 0: Now returning to Enterprise
Hikaru has left his family for missions for extended periods of time before, more than once, but he doesn't remember it ever being this hard before. He felt like his heart was breaking and he was on the verge of crying the entire time. He never really said his goodbyes in the shuttle hangers before either, but he wanted to spend as much time with Ben, Demora and Ben's daughter Kiko before leaving on the five-year mission.
Susan was also there, which might be the only reason why Ben and the kids got this far. Nobody was going to tell Commander Susan Ling-Chen (daughter of the head of Starfleet) that she couldn't bring her daughter with her to see off her father. He knew that the entire ship was gossiping about his surprise fatherhood. He might as well give them something interesting to talk about.
It wasn't until the last possible moment that Hikaru kissed Ben goodbye on the mouth (for a good two minutes) after handing over Demora to her mom. He then kissed all three women on the cheek before making his way to the shuttle and that's when Demora started screaming. He wanted to go back and cuddle her again to let her know that he wasn't going anywhere and that he loved her so much. He would have to if Dr. McCoy didn't grab his arm and pulled him into the shuttle.
"It's always hard to leave your little girl behind for the first time." He wanted to make some snide remark about the fact that his daughter, the recently rechristened Josephine Uhura-McCoy was already waiting on the shuttle with her recently adopted mother. However, he said nothing.
"Honestly, I was a wreck my first shift back at the clinic after bringing her home from the hospital. I think I cried for a week when the ex took Josephine away the first time. It was just as bad when I moved to San Francisco. That might've been the real reason why I was drinking so much when I met Jim. If I was sober at the time, we probably never would have become friends," the Doctor remarked.
"Are you going to tell me it gets better?" Hikaru asked.
"Only when there are phone calls and at least your relationship with your daughter's mother is significantly better than my relationship with Josephine's birthmother." Who was an alcoholic and who died by driving her vintage car into a tree. But nobody talks about that. Nobody dares mention it, especially in front of the young girl who has had her entire life changed around in the last eight months. "If it wasn't for her aunt, I wouldn't have the last time we were in space."
"You're right in that respect. Sue has already pulled some strings and she, Ben, and the kids will be there on our first planned shore leave in June." Only four long months away. At least he will get to spend her first birthday with his daughter.
"Keep looking forward to that and maybe you'll get through the next five years." Leonard said as they took their seats on the shuttle. At least he couldn't hear Demora's cries anymore, but that didn't mean he was not concerned. By the time he made it to his brand-new private quarters, he was in full parental panic mold. That wouldn't go away until he checked up on his little girl. Thankfully, he could use a Starfleet instant messaging service with Sue. Hopefully she had her work communicator with her.
Me: Please tell me she stopped crying.
Ling-ChenSX: About 10 minutes after you were safely on the shuttle. Ben is a miracle worker. You have much better taste in men than I do. He is so good with her.
Me: I will take that as a compliment
Ling-ChenSX: You really should. He made me brownies to help ease me back into single parenthood.
Me: His brownies really are good. He sent me up here with the whole tray.
Ling-ChenSX: Look, it's going to take a little while for her to adjust to you not being here all the time, but it will happen. She'll be okay. I was with both my parents in Starfleet. So, don't worry yourself sick over it.
Me: I'm still going to worry. Your mom says that's what parents do.
Ling-ChenSX: Very true. On the bright side, I will be teaching at the Academy until June and then the Hamilton will pick me up from where ever Enterprise is doing shore leave. So at least she will have me for a few more months.
Me: So, I really should be happy that your mom punished you for not telling her exactly how baby D came to be?
Ling-ChenSX: Yes, which I don't get. You were there too. And you get a promotion and your own quarters. I get to spend a semester teaching first-year cadets. I prefer our eight-month-old.
Me: Babysitting actual babies is so much easier than dealing with freshman. I don't have it that easy. I'm babysitting my Captain and my other Captain because they're a married command team of the same rank and deep down inside we're a little afraid that this will end in tears and body bags.
Ling-ChenSX: I just hope it's not your body bags that will come back to us.
Me: I get what happened. No one wants to tell their mom that they got pregnant due to a shore leave three way because your idiot, now former boyfriend accidentally picked up fertility drugs. I just wish I found out you were pregnant before Liz showed me baby pictures of Demora when we were planning Jim's wedding.
Ling-ChenSX: I realize I should've said something earlier, but after my boyfriend abandoned me, I was a little bit hesitant to have the conversation with you.
Me: Thankfully, I'm not him.
Ling-ChenSX: The rational part of my brain knew that, but pregnancy brain will mess with you.
Me: Although I'm not exactly sad that he ran away. It is better for Demora this way even if I am light years away. My parents are around to spoil her rotten.
Ling-ChenSX: That is true. I'm aware you're glad that he bailed because of the gigantic gift basket that you sent all the way to Delta Vega for his birthday.
Me: Because his bi curiosity and incompetency gave us the best gift of all.
Me: At the same time, it was all a lot easier to be part of a five-year mission when I didn't have a daughter waiting at home. It is going to be a long mission being away from everyone. Demora is going to be starting kindergarten when I get back. I think that is just starting to hit me.
Ling-ChenSX: Oh, but we will try to see each other whenever possible, and you can send letters. And we will reply with video files. I would say call, but I know what type of mission you'll be on and just getting an email may take a week or two.
Me: To you and Ben?
Ling-ChenSX: Or Demora and her twin by another mother/surrogate. We did set up her baby PADD to read to her in your voice.
Me: And when you're back on the Hamilton, your mom?
Ling-ChenSX: No. Liz or Ben. No writing to mommy. There are some things I don't want her to know.
Me: Ben will be at the top of my list. If we're still together at that point.
Ling-ChenSX: You will be. I haven't seen a guy look at his significant other like that since the last time I saw mom and dad together before he was killed.
Me: Thank you for reminding me of that morbid possibility.
Ling-ChenSX: We are Starfleet. This happens sometimes. I mean, I honestly hope Liz doesn't get custody of baby D anytime soon, but you can't just ignore the possibility of it.
Me: I know although I was thinking more along the lines of a breakup. He's a widow whose first husband died during the battle of Vulcan. Maybe this will be too much for him.
Ling-ChenSX: Or maybe you'll be perfect for him. At least I have a partner for playgroup. I was not looking forward to being there without you, but I think Ben will make a suitable replacement.
Me: I told him he could see other people because I don't expect him to be celibate for five years.
Ling-ChenSX: And are you planning to take advantage of the local alien populations as you galivant throughout the galaxy?
Me: Outside of sex pollen exposure, no. I don't know how it happened with everything going on, but I really do love him.
Ling-ChenSX: I'm aware that you love him and I think he loves you too.
Ling-ChenSX: Everybody knows sex pollen doesn't count. It's right there in the Starfleet handbook. It's not consensual.
Me: Has anybody had a sex pollen incident?
Ling-ChenSX: Not one that has been officially acknowledged at least. The closest thing to that has been that weird virus that made everyone lose their inhibitions. But hey, you have five years. Go forth and explore and send me back all the interesting details.
Me: I'll try. I'm just going to be a little sad without you guys here.
Ling-ChenSX: We will send you pictures too. We'll get through this.
Jim always thought that the Enterprise was a beautiful lady. He was glad to have her. He pretty much died for her and everyone aboard her. After almost dying and only surviving most likely due to a Vulcan mind meld and magical augment blood antibodies, he was ready to pass the keys to his Spock. Although, if they were married, maybe that meant Enterprise was their baby. He's sure Admiral Pike would agree with him if he pressed her on it.
Technically, he's still a Captain, Spock's co-captain. Technically, he still lives in the Captain's quarters. Although, there was now a very plush queen size bed in there which was nicer than what they had before. By the time the volcano fiasco happened, they were already living together, but this space was truly designed for the couple.
Their new quarters included a meditation space for Spock and digital frames filled with images of friends and family, including those that were no longer with them. Sam, George, Chris and Amanda featured prominently. The thermostat was set at the tolerable 23°C with plenty of thermal comforters to keep Spock nice and cozy. Of course, this means that Jim will be sleeping naked on top of the covers, but that's not exactly a hardship. Marriage really was all about compromise.
Now the biggest difference was that the closet was now 90% command gold with a few shore leave outfits in there for flavor. The only way you can tell the difference was the size. Jim was a little bit bigger up top in his spouse. And no, he wasn't getting the stomach, no matter what Bones argued, genetic predisposition be damned. It was all good because honey bear looked good in gold. Okay his honey bear would look good in a burlap sack if they still made burlap sacks.
As Jim took one of the many gold shirts out to get ready for the afternoon, he noticed a gift box on the top shelf of the closet. At first, he wondered if it was from Spock. Maybe it was some sort of belated Valentines present or maybe it was a 'thank God we're back on our ship' gift. By this point in their relationship, Spock knew he wasn't good with surprises so he probably knew full well that Jim would open the box as soon as he found it, at least the card was attached, anyway. That's when he found the card with a rather long note inside not from Spock, but rather Admiral Nhi Pike.
Congratulations on joining our ranks as a first officer. You're doing it a little backwards, but as someone who went from first officer to Admiral directly, sometimes it's necessary. Granted, you've been doing first officer duties since July, but that was all the prelaunch paperwork. This is the real job now.
'Which was bad enough.' Jim mumbled to himself as he paused in his reading.
Once you are in space, you will have all sorts of different crises to deal with. A good portion of it involves crewmembers acting like toddlers. I could probably fill out the front of this card and back with all sorts of tips that you probably will forget or ignore, but instead I thought I would get you a copy of a book that will serve you well.
That's when Jim looked inside to find a rare hard copy of The Idiot's Guide to Being a First Officer.
"Very funny." He said out loud, already thinking of the email he would send her the first time he had a chance.
"I'm not certain it is meant to be humorous, but rather helpful. I also received a copy of the book from her when I took over her duties as first officer for Christopher Pike." Spock said walking up behind him. He turned around to give him a quick peck on the lips, which turned into a not so quick kiss, that would've gone farther if not for the fact that Spock had to give a welcome speech in the next 22 minutes.
"You look good in command yellow. I wish we had time for me to strip that shirt off you." Jim remarked.
"Although not as good as you." Spock replied.
"Are you still nervous? Because honey you're going to do much better than my first day." Jim said fixing his collar. It may have got a little messed up during the kissing.
"Which first day are we counting as the first day of your captaincy? When you had to relieve me of command due to my emotional incapacitation or your actual first day?" Spock asked being extra Vulcan. Yep, he was nervous.
"When we started randomly fighting on the bridge." Jim clarified as he rubbed soothing circles on Spock's back.
"We never had a physical altercation on the bridge."
"After the first time." Jim quipped. "You are just being extra Vulcan today. Maybe I should use the term sniping."
"I believe that will not be an issue, this time due to the sexual tension being significantly less than previously, or at least that is Nyota's opinion of us."
"I've learned she's always right. Are you ready to head to the bridge, Captain Spock–Kirk?" Spock responded by kissing him again.
"I am now."
"Are you sure you're going to be okay settling in on your own?" Mommy Nyota asked as she showed Josephine to her brand-new room aboard Enterprise.
This would be her third new room since July. At this point, Josephine was an expert at setting up her room. The little house in Georgia was nice and she was close enough to be able to hang out with her friends. However, she didn't like the apartment in San Francisco. She hated not having a backyard. Of course, being on a starship meant no backyard or friends to play in said nonexistent backyard with.
There were a couple of other teenagers that would be on the ship, but when she met them last week at the ice cream social for the new minor dependents of Enterprise (allegedly Uncle Jim's idea), she had a feeling she wouldn't be close to any of them. That meant the person closest to her age that would talk to her was Pavel who was teaching her Russian in his spare time. She wished he was still teaching her math like before, but she was going to have to go to class with the other Enterprise children, even though she was three years younger than all of them.
Since leaving Georgia, Liz and Kevin had functioned as her primary tutors for the last couple of months and she adored them. They understood her better than others because they both lost their parents when they were around her age. Different circumstances, but they got it. She doubted any of her brand-new classmates would. They probably had two happy parents who were both on board the ship and never had to deal with it.
"I'll be fine. Nyota I'm not a baby. I can do this."
"I know, but I worry." The 'because you didn't leave your room for about a month after your mom died' was left unsaid. "According to your schedule, you can have until the 21st to explore the ship before really starting to get into your class schedule. Your Uncle Jim is supposed to give me at least one or two afternoons off so we can work on your Vulcan-based languages, in addition to the normal curriculum."
"I thought that's what Uncle Spock was doing?" During the last month and a half, her Uncle Spock would come over at least one afternoon a week to hang out and help her on her Vulcan language skills. He also cooked which was good because mom Nyota was best known for her pizza ordering skills. But he also understood. He lost his mom as well less than two years ago. It was a short enough time that things were still raw for him and he didn't expect her to be okay. That was good.
"Yes, but Uncle Spock is now captain and busy. So, I think I'm going to be taking over for at least a little while." Nyota tells her.
"It won't always be like this. We just need to get settled and so do you. I suggest unpacking and maybe decorating. You can start by remaking your bed." That's when Nyota pointed to the purple bedcovers on the side. She was so sure she packed those for storage because she was told that everything had to be regulation Starfleet. She was currently dressed in a tiny blue dependent uniform. At least she got to keep her purple sparkly pajama and similar sleepwear. That meant she was surprised to see her bed spread from before.
"Uncle Spock made an exemption for you and all the other minor dependents. He wants you to think of this place as home." Nyota tells her.
It's not home. Josephine thinks to herself, although she is not sure what home is anymore. She doesn't think she really had one since her parents divorced when she was a baby, maybe she never had one. Maybe it's where her dad and adopted mother are. Or maybe they were in the process of creating it. She's still trying to figure out the meaning of that word. It's a work in progress.
"Also, Liz sent you a survival starter pack." Nyota said pointing to the giant box. Josephine quickly ran over to open that. She found a ridiculous amount of chocolate covered popcorn, containers of cookies, and a ridiculous amount of candy. There were also some board games and the bottom.
"Please do not eat all of the junk food she sent you in one day because we don't have a shore leave schedule until the first week of June and the ship store usually runs out of candy around week three. Earth candy anyway."
"Since dad always says, 'Do not eat strange alien food' that means no candy for me."
"Not until your dad does the scan anyway and that covers candy from the commissary too. Also, don't drink anything that comes from engineering." Her mom said in all seriousness.
"I think Mister Scott would know better than to give alcohol to a minor."
"I hope so anyway, at least not until we make it to year 4." Nyota jokes. "I'll be back in a couple of hours to check on you. After the initial welcome to Enterprise remarks, I just need to greet the department and give everybody their assignments. I don't have a real bridge assignment until tomorrow anyway."
"I'll be fine, mom." She tried to reassure her.
"I worry. I mean I always wanted to live in space like my parents, but it wasn't an option. But we are taking you away from Georgia, your aunt, as well as all your friends and bringing you into this weird place to go boldly into the black and…"
"I want to be here with you and dad." She really does. She just needs some part of her life to keep being normal, even if normal involves being on a starship with 1000 people.
"I know, but I'm still going to worry. I've been informed that parenthood is at least 90% worrying yourself sick." Nyota said with a kiss to her head, before walking out the door, leaving Josephine to her own devices.
Her dad and mom Nyota would be happy to know that she did make her bed before opening the popcorn. Of course, underneath the popcorn was a letter from Liz written on real paper.
Greetings to the youngest member of the Starfleet crew. I bet Pavel is sad to be losing that title. But at least he's losing it to you and not to any of the other kids that are going to be on the ship.
So, I never actually lived on a ship when mom was a captain unless you count the three-month journey back from Tarsus hell and technically she wasn't my mom yet, but that was when she decided to adopt me. That wasn't exactly fun times for anyone. I slept with ration bars under my bed the entire time.
But before it all fell apart on Tarsus, I did live with my parents on their privately funded research vessel. So, I'm well versed in ship life as well as little classes with other bratty ship kids. Good luck.
To help you survive five years in space, I have packed you a care package with lots of junk food and old-fashioned board games, some of which came from the Kirk family collection that Jim did not want to take with them. There are also a bunch of data chips that you can load to your PADD with other things too occupy your time.
I also packed a therapy journal in there because you're still adapting to living with your dad because of what happened to your mom. I know Uncle Jim taught you how to do the letter technique. It might become useful at some point.
Remember if it all becomes too much, reach out to those around you. Mom always said, my birth mom, that it is easy to get lost in space, but it's the people that you love and that love you that keep you tethered to the world. Remember that over the next five years.
Since I'm trying to do my internship on Enterprise next semester, I hope to see you again sooner rather than later. Actually, I may see you before that, because I know my sister is going to bring me along on her family trip just to babysit. I'm moving in with her. That's what little sisters do.
PS: I also included 101 codes for replicators. You should be able to re-program it to do Snickers, but ask Uncle Jim to do that. Not Mister Scott because mom can't deal with an engineer accidentally blowing up a ship right now.
To be continued.
Please review. I really want to know what you're thinking.